Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mao on Complacency and Conceit:

9. Conceited people cannot forget their merits. They hide their own shortcomings and disregard other people’s strong points. They often compare their own merits with other people’s demerits, thereby drawing satisfaction. When they see the strong points of others, they say ‘Not much,’ or ‘Nothing to make a song and dance about.’

10. In fact, the more one overrates oneself, the worse the result is likely to be. Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, put it humorously:

‘A man is like a mathematical fraction, whose actual talent can be compared to a numerator and his own estimate of it to a denominator. The bigger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.’

11. Modesty is a necessary virtue for every revolutionary. It benefits the people’s cause whereas conceit leads the people’s cause to defeat. Therefore modesty is an expression of one’s responsibility to the people’s cause.

12. A revolutionary in name and practice must be able to: First, respect the creativeness of the masses, listen to their views, and regard himself as one of the masses. He must not have a single grain of selfishness or exaggerate his own role and must work honestly for the masses. This is the spirit which Lu Hsun describes as ‘Hanging my head low, I willingly serve as the young people’s ox.’ This is modesty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Badiou at the Gates of Dawn

Standard Turkish response to Chico Marx’s famous line “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” goes like this: “I neither believe you, nor my eyes, I believe in commonplaces and stereotypes.” It does not denote a normal functioning big Other which guarantees the stability of belief underlying the effectiveness of symbolic exchange. At the same time, it defies Zizek’s well known diagnosis of “the demise of symbolic efficiency” in the late capitalist society which, paraphrasing Lacan, enables everyone to acknowledge that the emperor is naked whereas he really is naked but the reality of his nudity resides in the fictional cloths pertain to his symbolic identity: In these times, it does not matter whether the emperor is naked or not, since we have lost the obligatory belief in symbolic mandate that assigns certain cloths to different identities and thereby provides the fundamental ground for communication. However, modern Turkish version of Sufi mysticism, to be precise, Sufi mysticism with bourgeois twist sublated in the prevailing ideological conviction what Badiou calls as “democratic materialism” mobilizes a perverse conception of world through a double disavowal. It does not only struggle to negate the determinative authority of social register with regard to mutual recognition among subjects, but also disavows the distance between imaginary and symbolic identities, confers the authority upon the former and thus, submerges the social reality into stream of fantasy. Let me give you a couple of examples to clarify this completely perplexing procedure. In the regular mechanism of democracy, if not a rule, it is without doubt being a typical politician entails maintaining a double life between a corrupt and cruel businessmen or a mediator on the private level and being a reliable moralist in front of public. But, in the inverted world of democratic materialist mysticism peculiar to Turks, it is completely acceptable to be affected by all the conceivable temptations of market as long as one manages to enjoy the possession of certain imaginary identities (Muslim, Kemalist, Nationalist, etc) promising that its holder walks on the pathway to unification with a certain ideal (god, republic, national identity, etc). Therefore, it does not matter what you say or what they see, what only counts is your imaginary insignia in the social fantasy. But one thing we have to notice is, far from being a sign of dominance of spiritual idealism counter to the heartless reality of commodity exchange, mystical element serves as the ideological pillar that supports the very brutality of social relations. It may surprise you how racism is prevalent in both official state discourse and practice, in political and everyday language, but yet it is impossible to find a single racist since in the spiritual level the word “racism” does not signify any form of discrimination. Thus, its practice in reality is unfettered from unpleasant criticisms.

Alain Badiou quotes Mao’s objection concerning one of the elementary Stalinist distortions of communism, namely depoliticization of the will aspiring after equality:

“All of this relates to the superstructure, that is, to ideology. Stalin speaks only of the economy; he does not deal with politics.”

So far, Turkish politicians, our leaders and their spokesmen have neither dealt with economy, nor politics. Or more precisely, they deal both with economy and politics as if they are insignificant topics in great spiritual debate, as inevitable conspiracy against people in the long path to ideals. Their axiom is:

“There are only bodies and languages, except that there are spiritual truths”

We screw the former with the latter. This is our version of “democratic materialism”

La Voie en Rose

She said "Frankly, my dear, follow the pink brick road"

Roll me up tight, kick me fast
I'm the hardest woolen ball you'll ever cast
Into this la voie en rose

When you dismiss me lolcats sigh
And tho I can't believe your eyes
I see la voie en rose

And when you chide.. an angel bows
Ordinary paws seem... to wear valvet gloves
Suddenly a child castratingly grows:
I hide away if you shout Heiddeger!
and appear when you say Simone de Beauvoir
halfway through la voie en rose

Monday, November 16, 2009

Logics of Worlds

Download: Logics of Worlds

While I was seriously thinking to squander the rest of my bankroll in Forex and eventually try kill myself in which I would probably fail just to add an insult to the existential injury, I just discovered that, after nine months of waiting, a perfect pdf copy of Alain Badiou's "Logics of Worlds" has made it to the Internet. I will spend the next week by reading the Master, taking notes, worshiping his genius, praying to him for redemption and striving to figure out how I can fabricate a modest subject out of the defected shell and rotten kernel of this human animal. I intend to publish my misunderstandings in the upcoming days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Revolutionary Twist of a Collage

It takes two songs from the Great Depression era two forge a revolutionary song which alludes to the reign of terror, the essential phantasmatic supplement of emancipatory politics: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" and "We're in the Money". The result is impressive:

We never see a headline about breadlines today
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell
And when we see the landlord we can look that guy right in the eye
Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time